Meewella | Fragments

The Life of P

Tag: wedding

Alex and Suzi’s wedding

Alex's Speech

I avoided writing about Alex and Suzi’s stunning wedding in mid-May until the photographs were ready. Now that I have shared them with the bride and groom, they are available for your perusal. They are an unusual set for me in that it is the first time I have shot with the intention of supplementing someone else’s work. Their official photographer was the excellent Jeff Ascough, who is so good at his craft that many barely noticed his presence at all, particularly during the ceremony. I took on the role of official unofficial photographer, or perhaps unofficial official photographer, I am not sure which. They key is “unofficial” — many of you know this is a rule as, whilst I will inevitably take many photographs at friends’ weddings and I am happy to share them, I simply cannot guarantee that I will nail each of the key moments and you only get one chance to do so.

As Ascough would be photographing the bridal party prior to the ceremony, Alex specifically requested that I shoot the chaps over the morning, and in this I was happy to oblige. As an usher, I did not shoot the ceremony at all and broadly sought to stay out of Ascough’s way during the day’s main set pieces. Between these Alex and Suzi largely circulated separately amongst the guests, with the unusual result that I ended up with virtually no photos of the two of them together.

Hard Rock

The day began at the RAF Club, some of the ushers nursing their heads in the bright sunlight after two successive nights out with the bridesmaids and family. Corks were swiftly popped on two medicinal bottles of champagne. We had allowed plenty of time to get ready but, being men, required virtually none of it. As an usher, one’s key role before the ceremony is essentially to stop the groom from doing anything dangerous. Like thinking. So we set off to find him a drink. Unfortunately, in the morning before the pubs had opened, the only available option was the Hard Rock Café around the corner — not the most natural venue for a dozen men in full morning dress. The tourists peered at us in bemusement, not entirely sure whether we were preparing for some event or whether this was simply how the British dress for the weekend. We chose not to dispel their confusion.

The Church

After a short ride in two gleaming white taxis, the next stop was The Windmill, a pub round the back of St. George’s Church. Given the proximity, it gradually filled up with wedding guests over the next hour, after which we adjourned to the church. Ascough had arrived already and, upon our enquiry about the bridal party, made a slightly cryptic comment. The ceremony itself was a lovely, simple affair inside a beautiful church. It was only afterwards, aboard the routemaster buses that took us on a winding trip around London before returning us nearby at the Lansdowne Club, that one of the bridesmaids spilled their morning’s events to which Ascough had alluded.


Suzi, having awoken early that morning, had decided in preparation for the impending nuptials to transfer her engagement ring. Unfortunately the fingers of her right hand turned out to be slightly larger than the left. Being a determined sort, she was disinclined to back down and it became hopelessly stuck with her finger swelling up. As it began to turn purple she decided it should probably be sorted out and so she found herself in A&E having the ring cut off. Typically calm, she was the one telling her bridesmaids not to freak out as she explained the situation from hospital.

The remainder of the day went far more smoothly, the Lansdowne providing a wonderful suite of rooms as the backdrop for the reception. I caught up with Sarah and Frankie, as well as Amy whose band provided background music. The wedding breakfast boasted a delightfully multinational menu, accompanied by Swedish snaps for toasting and wedding favour bottles of Tuscan olive oil.


I was slightly concerned that Peter, my boss, would be joining for the evening reception, after I had indulged in a full day of drinking. Photography duties slowed my intake slightly and he was on great form, so I need not have worried! The night wound on with much dancing, frivolity and it was the only wedding at which I can remember the bride’s garter being tossed in traditional fashion as well as the bouquet.

As we sent the bride and groom on their way (to the Ritz no less) it was time to recover my top hat and relinquish the morning suit. Whilst I avoid hats because they inevitably destroy my hair, I was disappointed to part with the well-fitting top hat and found myself purchasing a great old-style brown trilby for a film noir themed night a few weeks later. Any wedding that can alter your fashion tastes must be considered a resounding success.

Ruth and Jonny’s Wedding

This may be the first time a group of Londoners have fled the City to Belfast and felt significantly safer. The reason for this jaunt — my first to “Norn Iron” — was Ruth and Jonny’s wedding. Angie, Rav and I decided to make a long weekend of it, and arranged to meet up with Dave and Chima while out here too. While Angie’s mother is away we have the run of her house (predominantly for sleeping and watching episodes of the massively un-PC Archer late at night).

A damp Friday and Saturday morning fortunately gave way to great weather for the ceremony and reception, the intermittent drizzling being remarkably well-behaved. The very traditional service was conducted in a pretty, rural parish Church a little way outside Lisburn. It was great to see Oli, Paul and Dan cravatted and all looking unusually dapper, as well as a strong contingent of Cambridge friends who made it over.

Following the ceremony we adjourned to the Tap Room at the Hilden Brewery, a beautiful cosy venue in a working brewery with a fantastic restaurant. Al fresco canapés were served while the weather held, before retiring upstairs for the wedding breakfast. The speeches resulted in rapidly accelerating inebriation as our table imposed unfortunate drinking rules that included both the bride and groom’s names, the word “beautiful” and the inevitable joke about Jonny succeeding in arranging a piss-up in a brewery…

So far the remainder of the trip has been spent on the typical excursions to the Bushmills distillery and the Giant’s Causeway, and generally taking in the gorgeous countryside around here. A full set of photos from both the wedding and trip in general will, of course, follow soon.

Tom and Lydia’s Wedding

I have been inexcusably slow in sorting out photos from Tom and Lydia’s wedding at the end of April, which meant, by extension, that I did not get round to mentioning it here. Seeing them both last weekend at Annabel‘s birthday dinner party (now firmly established as an annual event since several of her friends have now become strictly Once-a-Year Acquaintances of mine, following last year’s Wonderland-themed affair) motivated me to sort them out. As a result I am now pleased to present a gallery of wedding photos, including a range of square portraits of guests which is a new experiment.

Like Andy and Irina’s wedding last year, the ceremony itself was in the Downing College chapel. This was fitting not just because the pair met at Downing, but as choristers they both spent a significant amount of time rehearsing and singing together in that chapel. Sunlight filtered through beautifully throughout, while most of us struggled to decide on which side we ought to be seated. In the end James and I opted for Tom’s side largely on the basis Lydia appeared to have more family in tow. And it gave him a better view of Lucia who was looking rather stunning while performing her official duties (if more questionable when off-duty).

Following the ceremony we adjourned to Anstey Hall, a nearby location that is apparently a popular Cambridge wedding venue. The weather was glorious for the boldly early April date, and bright sunshine poured over the guests sipping champagne in the gardens. The wedding breakfast was served in a large marquee which was later cleared out into a large dancing area. While the bride and groom’s first dance was a traditional and well-executed ballroom number, this was followed by a céilidh in suitably Cantabrigian fashion (by Cambridge Ball standards, anyway). Traditionally something I would sit out, I was dragged up by a pleasantly inebriated Helen and enjoyed getting confused by organised dances more than I would readily admit. It was around this time that Dave, in a fit of missing us all too much, impulse-bought his plane tickets for the following weekend to attend Keggfest. Sadly, since I was not staying the night in Cambridge, I had to disappear before the festivities ended else my last train would have turned into a pumpkin.

All in all, a fantastic day and it was wonderful to see another pair of uni friends off on the road to marital bliss. As Matt D put it a few days ago, “a wedding is like a wake for two single people who cease to exist”. Only in a good way.

Chris and Alissa’s Wedding

Saturday’s graciously fair weather was particularly welcome as it featured a trip up to Oxford for Chris and Alissa’s wedding. In a rare display of efficiency, the anticipated gallery of wedding photos is already up. Those pictures probably convey more of the wonderful day than I can with words, but then that’s never stopped me before…

Wedding - RingsThe wedding itself took place in the heart of Oxford town in The Church of Mary Magdalen (the name being pronounced, somewhat confusingly, in the regular manner unlike the inexplicable Oxbridge college pronunciation — maudlin). Chris and I have discussed the high church nature of the services there, but I had not realised the true extent, with the whole affair easily mistakable for a Roman Catholic one. Having lived opposite them for years I know all his family well so it was great to see his parents, brother-and-best-man Alex, as well as sister-and-bridesmaid Jennifer.

Transportation - RoutemasterTransportation to the reception had been something of a secret, the bride and groom travelling in a replica of the car driven by Inspector Morse, while everyone else clambered aboard a Routemaster bus, presumably for the benefit of the visiting Americans, Alissa’s family and friends. We journeyed to Kingston Bagpuize House for the reception. A marquee in the garden featured a string quartet, drinks and canapés while everyone settled in. Most interesting however, was the artist who cut out freehand profile silhouettes of the guests without drawing anything first. He had an exceptional eye for picking out details and everyone was enthralled by his work. Meanwhile I was able to catch up with Guy, Francis, Ravi and Cameron who formed the Whitgift contingent.

CakesThe cutting of the cake — being a large one atop an impressive tower of smaller cakes that formed the marquee’s centrepiece — was followed by dinner inside the house. It was as delectable as one would expect, with a careful seating plan that ensured conversation flowed easily despite the mixed generations. The bride and groom made it through the speeches relatively unscathed, though with time slipping away proceedings were running very late and I had no hope of returning to London that night as planned.

Fortunately Chris’ parents, Sue and Dick, graciously agreed to put me up in their apartment (the benefit of being good friends with the groom’s parents!), though as it turned out I only hit the sofa bed at 5am after several hours of celebrations with Alex, Jennifer and several others. This would have been fine except that I had to be up just 3 hours later to head back to London for a family lunch. Navigating Oxford in the morning light made me realise it really is a pleasant town that I ought to spend more time in, much as Cambridge will always hold more importance for me. Fortunately I already have invitations to return.

"Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has."

(CC) BY-NC 2004-2023 Priyan Meewella

Up ↑